On July 22, 2004, 18-year-old Scotty Joe Weaver’s burned body was found at the side of a rural Alabama road. He had been beaten, strangled, cut, burned and robbed of between $65 and $80. While robbery was first thought to be the main motivation, Baldwin County District Attorney concluded that the crime was actually a hate crime. Unfortunately, Alabama does not have a hate crime law covering sexual orientation, and Scotty Joe Weaver’s murder was not included in the FBI’s hate crime statistics for 2004, representing another example of the gaps in the FBI’s hate crime reporting program.
Robert Porter, 18, Nichole Bryars Kelsay, 18, and Christopher Gaines, 20 were arrested and charged with capital murder. Gaines and Kelsay had been Scotty Joe’s roommates. Last May, Gaines pleaded guilty to capital murder, avoiding the death penalty. Last Wednesday, Porter entered a guilt plea and received two consecutive life sentences. According to his lawyer, he will be eligible for parole in fifteen years.
Prosecutors said a plea agreement is possible with Kelsay, who is awaiting trial.